Ko Chang (เกาะช้าง) is an island in Trat Province, Eastern Thailand.
Ko Chang is Thailand’s second largest island, and the biggest in eastern Thailand. With about 5,000 permanent residents the island is not heavily populated, but tourism (and development) has increased dramatically over the past few years.
Ko Chang is one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches, most half-deserted. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, snakes, deer, and a number of elephants. The island and its vicinity are great places for snorkelling, diving, and jungle hiking. The “discovery” of the island as a tourism destination since 2000 has brought on a large amount of rapid development, and while still far quieter than places like Phuket or Ko Samui, it’s probably better to go now than later. Regarding services and activities specifically aimed at tourists prices have reached such a level that the islanders are pricing themselves out of the market when compared to the other islands.
Stay with our Hotel Partners on Ko Chang
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History of Ko Chang
Prior to World War II, Ko Chang was little known by anyone. During this period, the few families there made a living growing coconuts and fruit on the mainland. In January 1941, during the Japanese occupation, the Thai Navy fought the French in a battle in the waters to the southeast of Ko Chang.
Nothing else happened to Ko Chang until the first backpacker foreigners started arriving on the back of local fishing boats in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Ko Chang along with surrounding area became part of the protected Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park. Only very recently, in less than ten years, Ko Chang has turned itself into a major tourism destination, both for foreigners and local Thais.
This sudden tourism boom however, has been fraught with controversy concerning land encroachment. The government is trying to “develop” it from a backpackers’ paradise to a top-level destination, and construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts torn down to make way for fancy resorts.
Ko Chang is the largest island in the Ko Chang Archipelago. The name means Elephant Island, named for the elephant shape of its headland, although elephants are not indigenous to the island.
Ko Chang has an area of approximately 429 square kilometres. The topography contains high mountains and complex stone cliffs. The highest peak is Khao Salak Phet which is 744 m high, rich in fertile evergreen forest which is the main water source. There are many waterfalls, beaches and splendid reefs in the west of the island.
Most accommodation is on the west side of the island, where the sandy beaches are. On the east side there are no sandy beaches and it is far less touristy. There are some nice waterfalls though.
70% of the island is rain forest, steep hills, cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife, fine beaches, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. The island also has tall mountains and rock cliffs.
Climate & Weather
Ko Chang has the same seasons as Bangkok. The best season to go is the (comparatively) cool season between Nov-Feb. Mar-May are roasting hot and between Jun-Oct it rains, and a lot at that: 4,000 mm in an average year. Many guesthouses close during this season, so accommodation is limited. If you don’t mind the rain, traveling during the rainy season can be enjoyable nevertheless, and prices for accommodation are low.
Fly to Ko Chang
Bangkok Airways flies three times a day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Trat. The flights depart at 08:30, 12:40 and 16:50, and takes 1 hour. Fares are between 1,800-3,300 Thai Baht.
Cheap Flights to Trat
|Origin||Departure at||Return at||Find tickets|
Direct door-to-door minibus transfers from Trat airport to Ko Chang resorts cost 500 Thai Baht/person one way and 900 Thai Baht/person return including the ferry crossing.
From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, take the free express shuttle bus from outside the arrivals concourse to the airport’s own bus terminal, and from there the next available bus to either Trat or Chanthaburi, then proceed as described below.
From Bangkok the most economical way to get to Laem Ngop (where the Ko Chang ferry piers are) is to take a 1st class Bus 999 from the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal direct to the Laem Ngop piers. The fare is 268 Thai Baht and takes just over 5 hr. Departures from Ekamai are at 07:45 & 09:45, and return at 14:00 and 16:00. Subject to seat availability, this bus can also be boarded at Chanthaburi and at Suvarnabhumi Airport Airport.
There is a more comfortable way to travel from Bangkok Airport to Ko Chang: Bus 392 starts from the airport at 07:30 and returns from Ko Chang at 12:30. Tickets can be bought on-line at the Suvarnabhumi Burapha Bus Company. There are also express shared minibuses running from Suvarnabhumi Airport airport non-stop to Lonely Beach on Ko Chang via the Lonely Beach Express. Tickets are 308 Thai Baht for the big bus and 600 Thai Baht (800 Thai Baht round trip) for the minibus which includes a ticket for the ferry.
Bookable from most travel agents near Khao San. Travelmart operates a large, nice air-con VIP Bus from Khao San area to Centrepoint ferry terminal 4-5 hours. 300 Thai Baht which includes the ferry crossing is among the cheapest and most convenient way to Koh Chang. Leaves at Khao San at 08:00, but times can vary. Return service is also available.
Alternatively, there are 1st class (approximately 5 hr, around 250 Thai Baht) and 2nd class services from both the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) and Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) direct to Trat, and frequent songthaew services from Trat to Laem Ngop (approximately 30 minutes, 50 Thai Baht/person). Departures from Ekamai are more frequent than from Mo Chit. If coming by bus from the south, the 511 air-con bus can be used to connect directly between Bangkok’s Southern (Sai Tai Mai) and Eastern (Ekamai) bus terminals.
Connections in Trat can also be used if coming from Pattaya (2nd class bus, 4 hr, around 200 Thai Baht).
There are direct minibus services to Laem Ngop from Pattaya, Ban Phe (gateway to Ko Samet), and Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Victory Monument (in front of Payathai Hospital). They, however, are less comfortable and spacious than public buses, and you may be charged significantly more by travel agencies selling tickets to these, as often with any tourist-oriented transportation in Thailand.
It may also be possible to proceed directly to Laem Ngop by minibus or songthaew from the Hat Lek/Ko Kong border crossing with southern Cambodia, depending on the time of year, time of day. Inquire locally. Price around 120 Thai Baht (one way) from the border to Trat bus station.
Most ferries operate from Laem Ngop, which has three piers: the Laem Ngop (Tha Khrom Luang or Tha Laern Ngop) pier is approximately 700 m west of Laem Ngop; the Centrepoint (Tha Centre Point) pier is about 3.5 km northwest of Laem Ngop. These piers serve both vehicle and passenger ferries; the Ko Chang vehicle ferry pier is in Thammachat Bay (Ao Thammachat), around 15 km west of Laem Ngop.
All piers on Ko Chang are on the east side of the island. The major piers are the two Dan Kao piers, Tha Dan Kao and Tha Ferry Dan Kao, which handle most of the traffic.
To take a boat from Laem Ngop to the Dan Kao piers takes around 45 minutes. The car ferry from Laem Ngop takes around 1 hour and arrives at the Tha Ferry Dan Kao pier, 400 m southeast of the Tha Dan Kao pier. The car ferry from Thammachat Bay stops at the Ko Chang Ferry Pier (Tha Ferry Ko Chang) in Sapparot Bay (Ao Sapparot), 3 km northwest of the Dan Kao piers.
Light meals, fruit, fruits and beverages are available at all the piers and on the car ferries.
There are two operators who provide daily bus services from Ko Kut to Ko Chang. One is based in Ban Bao, the other on Kai Bae Beach. Rates are the same but departures times can vary, so make sure to book ahead.
- Ferry timetables – Up to date ferry timetables for boat services between the mainland and Koh Chang.
By taxi or limousine
From Bangkok or Suvarnabhumi Airport international airport takes a total of about 5 – 5½ hours by taxi. Most taxis will decline the trip as the risk of empty return is too high for them. Most (airport) limousines and taxis can deliver you to the island, especially if they can make it back to the mainland before the last ferry sails.
- Koh Chang Minibus , ✉ email@example.com.
In the daytime, you can catch a songthaew on its route around the main road for 50-100 Thai Baht/person, depending how far you go. The rates are generally much higher than in other places, but the vehicles are almost new and in excellent condition. Starting from 17:00, many of them start to ask “taxi” price, telling you that they operate as a public transport only until that time, and may quote prices as high as say 500 Thai Baht from Lonely Beach to the Dan Kao pier. However, if you have some time and patience, you still can try and have a “shared” ride with some drivers, maybe for a higher rate if they expect little or no other passengers.
These taxis are also waiting at the Dan Kao Pier (50 Thai Baht/person to White Sand Beach, 100 Thai Baht to Lonely Beach). At the Dan Kao Ferry-Pier there may be no taxis available. If you arrive without a vehicle you may have to walk the 400 m to Dan Kao Pier.
Cars are also available for rent, most hotels can help with it. 4 x 4 recommended, since some roads might be in bad condition, especially near Lonely Beach.
If there are 2 or more people going with you, hiring a songthaew may cost the same price, or even be cheaper than paying per each person in a “shared” songthaew (there is no difference, an empty songthaew can easily be hired). Just do not forget to bargain if their price sounds quite silly when compared, say, to Bangkok taxi-meter (on Ko Chang it can be difficult if not impossible to get the same price, but at least it should not cost double or even more). Most folk however, just stay put on the beach of their choice and walk to wherever they want to go.
Hitching on Ko Chang is also an alternative if you choose not to pay the often exorbitant fees of the songthaew. Many islanders are more than willing to pick up a hitchhiker who happens to be going the same way they are. A Coke or cold bottle of green tea for the driver are always appreciated at the end of your journey.
Motorbikes are a fantastic way to explore the island. Small motorcycles can be hired for 150-250 Thai Baht per day. The main road is sealed and almost circles the island and there are plans to complete the circuit in the near future. The road leading to the War Memorial at the south end is worth a trip.
Riding a motorbike is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. Most visitors manage on level roads, during the daytime and during good weather conditions. Darkness and rain, together with poor skills, steep hills and questionable maintenance can be fatal. Think twice if you have to travel at night, and when it rains during the night, avoid the steep hills in the north and the southwest.
When renting a bike, check tires, brakes and light. Reputable shops will fix them while you wait, don’t compromise on safety. Bring your own helmet if you have one.
What to see and do
- Mu Ko Chang National Park. National Marine Park including parts of Ko Chang and 46 other islands.
- War Memorial Monument (In the very South of the island). A renovation is underway at the Memorial site, with a huge building being constructed (Jan 2018).
- Kai Bae Beach.
- Khlong Prao Beach (enter the Public Beach Access opposite Mother Earth Garden or next to Nong Bua Seafood, Chaichet).
- Lonely Beach (Hat Tha Nam, Ao Bai Lan).
- White Sand Beach.
- Khiri Petch (About 3 km from Salak Petch village). Medium sized waterfall.
- Klong Nonsi. Waterfall on the east side of the island. Reachable by foot from the Klong Plu waterfall, 6 km.
- Klong Nueng. Said to be the most breathtaking waterfall.
- Klong Plu. The most popular waterfall, and the only one on the west side of the island.
- Kongoi (Near Bang Bao). 5 waterfalls.
- Thanmayom (Near Thanmayom Pier).
What to do
- Dive Adventure. Five star PADI IDC diving school offers scuba diving, PADI courses and snorkelling trips into Ko Chang National Marine Park.
- Diving School Ko Chang (Bang Bao). Go diving or learn to dive in the beautiful waters of Ko Chang.
- Eco-Divers Koh Chang (bookings at White Sand Beach (near Kacha Hotel), Kaibae (just in front Kaibae Resort, on the main street; main office is in front of the 7-Eleven at the entrance to Klong Prao). 09:00-20:00. Snorkelling trips.
- Tree Top Adventure Park. Daily 09:00-17:00. Rope and harness tree climbing. Fun activities and amazing views from the top of the trees. Half-day program, 950 Thai Baht.
- Hike with a park ranger from the Than Mayom Waterfall to the Klong Plu Waterfall. The cross island trek takes 8–10 hours and costs 500 Thai Baht per person.
- Trek in the jungle with Tan, +66 89 6452019, +66 89 8322531, who has been taking guided treks for over 10 years and speaks very good English.
- Learn Thai cooking in one of the three Thai cooking schools located around Klong Prao: Kati Culinary, Ko Chang Thai Cooking, Blue Lagoon.
- Guided sea kayaking trips. KayakChang.com is run by a qualified British guide. They use imported sea kayaks and equipment. They offer single day expeditions off the west coast and multi-day expeditions in the southern islands.
- Meet retired Ko Chang elephants at the north end of White Sand Beach.
- Books Thailand (Pearl Beach, next to the main post office). Has a good selection of second-hand books in many languages.
- Madoosika (Bang Bao Plaza). Latest fashions. Chic, BOHO, gypsy, hippie, maxi dress, party and sun dresses.
- Scuba Zone (Scuba Koh Chang), 21/23 Moo 4 White Sand. Extensive range of snorkelling and diving equipment focusing more on quality than price, but still cheaper than Western prices.
Menus are similar to the rest of Thailand, but the high island prices are due not so much to higher transportation costs, but because of high demand. There are many restaurants on any given beach open both daytime and evening with a strong concentration of tourist venues on White Sand Beach.
The beaches of Ko Chang are all dotted with restaurants dishing up some delicious seafood as well as offering romantic evening views. Try Ko Chang’s own wine which comes in a variety of fruity flavours including mangosteen and pineapple.
Sunsets can be watched in style from the terrace at the Top Resort on south White Sand Beach from the vantage of a cliff top. Bring an appetite and your camera, no reservations needed.
White sand beach
- Apple (แอปเปิ้ล บังกะโล), 7/4 Moo 4. Su-F 08:00-24:00; Sa 08:00-01:00. Probably the cheapest restaurant/bar along White Sand Beach. It has a good location in the middle of the beach. Don’t expect anything special, just the usual Thai and Italian dishes common at tourist spots. Upstairs there is a small hut where you can chill out with a beer on pillows. Closing times are early, but if you order before closing time you can keep sitting there as long as you want. They also have 21 small wooden bungalows available for 800-4,000 Thai Baht/night.
- Nong Bua Seafood (White Sand Beach, opposite Ban Pu Resort). 07:00-22:00. If you pass by, you might wonder why this place is busy every night. A family-owned restaurant open for more than 30 years. Thai, Chinese, Western food, and especially fresh seafood.
- Rock Sand Restaurant (N White Sand Beach. Turn right on the beach by the 7-Eleven). 07:00-22:00. Thai and Western food. Speciality: Taste of Thailand and finger licking good.
- Ido Ido Restaurant and chill out bar ; Past bang bao on the way to klong koi beach home made Thai food – western food – breakfast
The drink you have to try is Chang beer, even if its only for the name. If you have a busy schedule ahead of you, better stick to Tiger beer as it doesn’t give as much of a headache (yet it is slightly more expensive). Each village offers something different, but taken as a whole, Ko Chang’s nightlife is fairly mellow compared to other islands. There are some quiet beach bars dotted around White Sand Beach with amazing sunset views.
- Jungle Queen Live Music Bar (Next to Alina Grande). The house band plays from around 20:00-24:00, and plays music from Rihanna to AC/DC. People come from all over the island for the live music hour, so be sure to stop by when they are on. They also have free pool, and the place doesn’t close until 05:00, so it’s a good place to take the party after the nightclub and the other bars start closing. Service is good, and the staff are friendly and efficient.
Lonely Beach’s nightlife and bar scene is gaining a reputation among the backpacker community. It is the place to be for “full moon” imitations, bucket parties, and dance till you pass out disco bars. The rubbish left over from the parties are barely cleaned up, so the next day you can see exactly where the party took place from the main road. The party location generally rotates among several different bars depending on the day of the week, and is usually heavily advertised which bar is “the spot” for each night.
- Cafe del Sunshine (Lonely Beach. Walk towards sunset, on your left). 07:00-24:00. Thai food and a great selection of Western brunch and lunch dishes. Set in a nicely designed and relaxing building. 50-100 Thai Baht.
- Rock Sand Resort (White Sand Beach). Right by the sea with a terrace over the sea to sit and watch the Ko Chang sunsets. Special: Taste of Thailand. Just above and behind the restaurant Rock Sand has rooms for backpackers and flashpackers.
- Siam Hut. Hosts a large dance party every Friday night in their large outdoor deck on the beach. Happy hour specials on Friday until 23:00
Where to stay in Ko Chang
Hotels Chang Island: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|The Emerald Cove Koh Chang||★★★★★||-27%||517 376|
|Awa Resort Koh Chang||★★★★||-34%||468 308|
|Klong Prao Resort||★★★★|
|Centara Koh Chang Tropicana Resort||★★★★||-24%||455 346|
|Santhiya Tree Koh Chang Resort||★★★★|
|Sea View Koh Chang||★★★★★||-9%||579 527|
|Seavana Koh Mak Beach Resort||★★★★||-9%||730 667|
|The Dewa Koh Chang||★★★★||-34%||606 398|
|Garden Resort||★★★||-43%||489 279|
|Bhu Tarn Koh Chang Resort & Spa||★★★★|
|Ramayana Koh Chang Resort & Spa||★★★||-40%||379 228|
|Koh Chang Paradise Resort & Spa||★★★★|
|KC Grande Resort & Spa||★★★★||-17%||537 446|
|Amber Sands Beach Resort||★★★|
|Serenity Resort Koh Chang||★★★||-38%||420 261|
|Koh Chang Kai Bae Beach Resort||★★★||-37%||558 351|
|Capital O 834 Iyara Resort & Spa||★★★|
Hat Sai Khao (White Sand Beach)
Most hotels are on the west side of the island, with many resorts and guest houses all along the road that leads down the coast. Generally speaking, prices drop off the further away from the port you get. Supply far out-strips demand, so finding a place to stay should never be hard, though the best or cheapest places may fill up at weekends.
- Alina Grande Hotel & Resort (At the S end of White Sand Beach) , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. In the heart of White Sand Beach, it is the perfect place to stay for families with children. 800-2,200 Thai Baht.
- Chang Cliff Resort, 16/14 Moo 4. 1,600-9,000 Thai Baht.
- KC Grande Resort. Bungalow village with restaurant. Five night stay minimum. 13,750-25,550 Thai Baht.
- Koh Chang Kacha Resort & Spa (In the centre of the beach). Fantastic beach side swimming pool, beach-front bungalow-villas, pool-side deluxe villas, deluxe hotel rooms, and many rows of bungalow in tropical-style garden. The best place for families. Good value for money, friendly staff, delicious food. 4,000-5,600 Thai Baht.
- Pattamas (At the S end of White Sand Beach). Roomy upstairs apartment with balcony, large bedroom, lounge and bathroom. The rooms are a great value. Three cheaper rooms available at 400-800 Thai Baht. Pattamas Restaurant serves authentic Thai dishes, coffee, teas, beers and spirits. Staff are friendly and happy. 800-2,000 Thai Baht.
- S.P. Place (On the N side of the beach, across from 15 Palms). Check-out: 12:00. It appears to be family-owned, but the family isn’t very friendly although the cleaning staff are. Wi-Fi is not free. Rooms are clean, TV/balcony/air-con/private bath. 550 Thai Baht, though possible to negotiate down to 500 Thai Baht for an air-con room. There’s also a 500 Thai Baht key deposit.
- Top Resort (At the S end of White Sand Beach). Guests can head to their own beach if they get the expensive 4,000 Thai Baht rooms and villas. Flagship are the sea view villas. Friendly staff, German and Thai food (and beer). Reasonable for families and single travellers. 790-4,990 Thai Baht.
- White Sand Beach Resort. 1,330-4,500 Thai Baht.
Klong Son Bay
- Siam Royal View (Chang Noi Beach). Villas & beach bungalows.
Klong Prao Beach
- Aana Resort and Spa (Near Klong Prao Beach). Upscale retreat. Some rooms have outdoor plunge pools and amazing views. Two gorgeous swimming pools, restaurant, two bars and a lovely (yet pricey) spa. The resort is 100 m up the river that spills out into the bay and Klong Prao Beach. Free kayaks are available for use. Excellent service. 5,000-13,000 Thai Baht.
- Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang , fax: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A tropical getaway offering a dive centre, a 50 m lap pool and 5 restaurants. 3,000-5,000 Thai Baht.
- Barali Beach Resort, 77 Moo 4, ✉ info@Baralikohchang.com. Nice little resort on the beach. 3,000-8,000 Thai Baht.
- Big Elk Steak House, 38/5 Moo.4 Amphoe Koh Chang (300 m from Klong Prao Beach) , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Bungalows and holiday houses in a nice garden with a clean swimming pool in the middle. Not getting too much noise from the road, but the nearby rooftop club can be heard quite often in the nights. The owner, Bank, is very nice and helpful, and takes good care of the place, everything is clean and neat. Wifi reaches probably all bungalows. Their steakhouse is closed as Bank is repairing the whole place. Cheapest huts for 300 Thai Baht (mattress only, shared bathroom), a bit nicer ones for 400 Thai Baht, aircon for 400-500 Thai Baht, bigger family ones (for four people) 1400 Thai Baht. Five to ten minutes walk to the beach through the Blue Lagun. 350-1,500 Thai Baht.
- Centara Koh Chang Tropicana Resort, 26/3 Moo 4. Large resort with 157 rooms in small cottages. Near the beach. Several pools, restaurants and bars. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Kids Club, babysitting. Most rooms can accommodate 3-4 people. 5,000-10,000 Thai Baht.
- Mother Earth Garden, kitchen and homestay, 19/1 Moo 4, Baan Klong Prao, Amphoe , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Founded 1990 by the travelers and nature lovers Nujaree and Manni Frohloff. They intend it for nature lovers, writers, musicians, artist, peace lovers, gardeners as space for healing, yoga, detoxing, workshops, etc. It’s placed uphill with marvelous sea view, between jungle and sea. The entrance is just opposite the public beach access. Reservations by email, or Skype mann.frohloff. The rooms for rent are the Upper Room in the Base House, Children House, Nujaree’s Tower, Treehouse and Kent’s House. 45 Thai Baht entry for geo catching, 660 Thai Baht room/ night, 10000 Thai Baht room/month, for volunteers special discount.
Kai Bae Beach
- The Chill Resort and Spa, 19/21 Moo 4 , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Beautiful, modern luxury resort with 38 rooms, including deluxe rooms, deluxe pool access rooms, Jacuzzi suites and pool villas. Breakfast served any time of the day. Free Wi-Fi and Internet stations. 6,250-15,000 Thai Baht.
- Gajapuri Resort and Spa. Bungalows on the beach. 4,000-13,000 Thai Baht.
- Garden Resort. Quiet and charming resort with luxury bungalows, swimming pool, high speed Internet and just 150 m from the beach. 1,200-2,700 Thai Baht.
- Koh Chang Cliff Beach Resort. 2,000 Thai Baht.
- Sea View Resort & Spa. Over 100 rooms. 1,600-10,000 Thai Baht.
- Siam Bay Resort Koh Chang, 100 Moo 4. 60 luxury bungalows on the beach, large family bungalows on the hillside and new sea view and pool villas. 300-4,000 Thai Baht.
- The Stage, 19/19/1 Moo 4 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. New set of bungalows not far from the beach. Pool. 900-1,600 Thai Baht.
Hat Tha Nam (Lonely Beach)
Following a great deal of development, the name “Lonely Beach” has become something of a misnomer. Lonely Beach is the party capital of the island and each guesthouse on Lonely Beach takes it in turns to hold “party night,” during which the partying and attendant thumping music goes on until about 05:00 and all the revellers on the island come to your guesthouse. If you do not want to be kept awake then Lonely Beach is definitely not the place for you. Most guesthouses giving “Lonely Beach” as an address are not located along the actual beach, but about 500 m down the road. From the village access to the sea is not possible as the coast is rocky.
- Bhumiyama Beach Resort (ภูมิยามะ บีช รีสอร์ท), 99/1 Moo 1 (Next to Nature Resort). Offers beautiful sea view bungalows and hotel rooms. 3,000 Thai Baht.
- Ice Beach (Follow signs to Sun Flower, then Sea Flower). Wooden bungalows, cheapest on Lonely Beach at 200 Thai Baht for a shared bathroom & fan room, 5-10 min walk to Lonely Beach. From 200 Thai Baht.
- Joy Cottage (On the main road by the bridge). Great backpacker place. Listen to live music, enjoy great food and chill out. Nice little huts, that come with mosquito net, attached shower and toilet and free Wi-Fi, though signal is very weak in huts but works well in restaurant. 400 Thai Baht.
- Kachapura. Well-appointed concrete bungalows spread around a serene tropical garden layout in Hat Tha Nam’s “town” strip. It’s a trek through the garden to get to the beach, which is anyway rather rocky, so better to walk 5-10 min down the road to the beach and bar at Siam Huts. Some noise from nearby bars at night in the bungalows near the road. 500-700 Thai Baht.
- Koh Chang Pool Villas, 100/1 Moo 4. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Pool villas on the white sand of Lonely Beach. Part of the Siam Beach Resort, but in a class of its own. Most popular with romantic couples and young families, because these villa have only a single large bed/living room. 3,900-7,600 Thai Baht.
- Little Eden, 4/47 Moo 1. Small bungalow resort, up the hill away from the bustling village. Comfortable bungalows individually placed, 12 with fans 2 with air-con, 1 twin double room, hot showers, mosquito net, toiletries and free Wi-Fi. Restaurant has Thai and international (slow) food. Every bungalow has a hammock and a gallery in the bath.
- Lonely Beach Resort. New concrete bungalows with fan, TV and Wi-Fi. Restaurant serves Thai and Western food. A 5-10 min walk to the sandy beach. From 500 Thai Baht.
- Oasis Koh Chang (Koh Chang Bungalows), Ko Chang (Lonely Beach Soi 3, opposite the pharmacy) , ✉ email@example.com. On a hillside with sunset views from the restaurant deck, where you can enjoy home-style Thai dishes, sandwiches or Western favourites. The wooden huts come with fan and mosquito net, attached open-air bath with shower. Free Wi-Fi. 350 Thai Baht.
- Paradise Cottages (At the end of Lonely Beach). Check-out: 12:00. Very nice, large and clean waterfront concrete cottages. There is a rocky waterfront, an amazing bar, and lounging areas with very friendly staff and outstanding food. Free Wi-Fi. 700 Thai Baht, 1,000 Thai Baht for waterfront. Off-season prices (as of 2014-06-23): 350 (wooden, smells stuffy, fan only, cold shower), 500 (fan only, warm shower) and 700 (waterfront, air conditioning).
- Seaflower (Follow signs to Sun Flower). Great price range (between 500 Thai Baht for 1-2 person bungalow with fan and private bathroom, and 1,000 Thai Baht for sea front bungalow with air-con, cable TV, private bath. All bungalows are clean, new, and the grounds are very well taken care of on a daily basis by maintenance staff. Nice lounging area on a patch of lawn right next to the water, and only a 5-10 minute walk along the water’s edge to Lonely Beach. Very quiet at night considering how incredibly close to all the action. Free Wi-Fi. 500 to 1,000 Thai Baht in high season.
- Siam Beach Resort Koh Chang (On the beach). Formerly a backpacker place, converted into a resort with large swimming pool. Sea view and deluxe pool view hotel rooms, all with a sea view, cable TV, refrigerator, hot water, comfortable beds and breakfast for two. 1,500 Thai Baht.
- Siam Hut. On the beach, offering a quiet atmosphere (unless they are hosting a beach party, in which case don’t expect to sleep before 02:00), friendly staff and delicious food. Options are cheaper spartan waterfront bungalows or slightly more expensive air conditioned bungalows. 400-680 Thai Baht.
- Sun Flower (Follow the signs). Nice bungalows with well-priced Western and Thai restaurant with nightly movie screenings, free Wi-Fi and reclining cushions. 300-500 Thai Baht.
Most of this beach is rocky, only the southern end—which is dominated by the resort, not really welcoming non-residents—is sandy.
- Ao Bai Lan Beach Resort (อ่าวใบลาน บีช รีสอร์ท) (Laem Bai Lan). 150-200 Thai Baht.
- Bai Lan Hut , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Each of the 22 bungalows has a computer, free Wi-Fi, hot shower, fan. Air-conditioned rooms available. The bungalows are right by the sea with sunset views. 500-1,500 Thai Baht.
- Bai Lan Resort (ใบลาน รีสอร์ท), 6/1 Ko Chang Tai. Have six bungalows, pitching a private tent is 50 Thai Baht per person per night. 100 Thai Baht.
- Elephant Bay Resort (formerly: Gu Bay). Bungalows and swimming pool with view to the sea, just 5 m from the water. low season: 450-1000 Thai Baht, high season 650-1150 Thai Baht.
- Koh Chang Bailan Bay Resort (first resort S of Lonely Beach, about halfway up a steep rise in the road). Spacious, en suite bath, well-designed bungalows built into the hillside, going all the way down to the beach. Fan and air-conditioned rooms available. Friendly staff. Reception and restaurant are open from 08:00-22:00. 350-1,000 Thai Baht.
- Whitehouse Bailan Resort (ไวท์เฮ้าส์ ใบลาน รีสอร์ท). Cosy white cottages, swimming pool, air-con, hot showers, free Wi-Fi. They have 15 standard rooms and 18 cottages. 800-1,500 Thai Baht.
Bang Bao Bay
Bang Bao is on the south side of the island. It’s little more than a long stretch of wooden deck that takes probably 5 minutes to walk from end to end, with dive shops, seafood restaurants, local houses and a few places that provide accommodation for visitors.
- Alysia Spring Resort Bang Bao. 27 rooms with air conditioning, hot water, fridge, cable TV, safe and balcony. Internet. 1 km to beach, free shuttle service. English and German-speaking staff. 800 Thai Baht.
- Asia Backpackers (from ferry, follow signs to Mercure Hideaway, 2 km past Mercure) , ✉ email@example.com. Ko Chang’s largest backpacking resort on Ko Chang. Has private bungalows and female/mixed dorms, providing quality accommodation at a great price, Also on site is a bar/restaurant/communal area showing all sports and pool table, dart board. From 250 Thai Baht per night per person.
- B. Phoem Phun Thap (บ. เพิ่มพูลทรัพย์), 24/1 Moo 1. 2,000 Thai Baht.
- L’appartement, Bang Bao Village – TBR residence (200 m after Bang Bao Temple), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 2-bedroom self catering sea view apartment, 120 sq m, 180° sea view, 30m swimming pool, kids’ pool, 300m private pier.
- Ko Kut Thailand’s 4th largest island
- Ko Mak island
Hua Hin Cha-am | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Hua Hin Travel Guide
Hua Hin is a district in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province of Thailand, 295 kilometers from Bangkok and 90 km from the provincial capital. It is the oldest and most traditional of Thailand’s beach resorts combining the attractions of a modern holiday destination with the charm and fascination of a still active fishing port. Beaches are located in the east of the province, including a 5km stretch of white sand and clear water. Although it has developed to cater for tourists from all over the world, the resort which began its development over 70 years ago, remains popular with Thais too, a good sign for those looking for an authentic experience.
The resort was originally founded in 1830s, when farmers, moving south to escape the results of a severe drought in the agricultural area of Phetchaburi, found a small village beside white sands and rows of rock, and settled in. The tranquil fishing village was turned into a ‘Royal resort’ becoming popular among Siam’s nobility and smart-set.
Accessibility was greatly enhanced by the construction of the railway from Bangkok, which brought visitors from wider social groups, and kick-started the industry which would bring tourists from other countries. The first hotel – The Railway Hotel – was built in 1921 and it still stands today continuing to serve tourists as the Sofitel Central.
Hua Hin was made famous in the early 1920s by King Rama VII, who decided it was an ideal getaway from the steamy metropolis of Bangkok. He built a summer palace and this was echoed when King Rama VII ordered the construction of the Palace of Klaikangwon (“far from worries”). The latter is still much used by the Thai Royal Family today.
The resort continued to develop slowly, protected to some extent by its Royal reputation. Its fishing port grew alongside golf courses and all the big hotel chains are now represented. Many of Bangkok’s rich and famous and a growing number of expats have built their own summer homes along the bay, making the resort more cosmopolitan every year.
Development has taken over much of the prime government land, so the coast road suffers from obstructed views of the sea these days, but Hua Hin is trying hard to retain its beach-side atmosphere. Compared to Pattaya, the resort remains relatively serene and attracts families and older travelers. The beach has a gradual slope, into clear warm water which so far has escaped pollution of any kind.
Further afield, the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is a charming region, where limestone cliffs and islands, bays and beaches, are home to a national park, and several temples, and travelling through this area will be a welcome experience for those hoping to avoid the tourist traps found further South. Driving from Bangkok through Prachuap Khiri Khan takes around three hours, a journey punctuated by summer palaces, huge temples, beautifully kept gardens and salt flats.
Visitors head to Hua Hin all year round. The area has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, and there’s usually a gentle sea breeze to punctuate the heat, particularly welcome in the summer season between March and September.
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Flights to Hua Hin
Cheap Flights to Hua Hin
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Things to see and do in Hua Hin
As you would expect with a resort boasting a 5km clean white beach, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling are popular pastimes. Swimming is safe, and with one of the driest climates across Thailand, there’s plenty of opportunity to dry off in the sun afterwards.
Possibly due to its noble history and elegant clientele, Hua Hin has the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand, although it has yet to be discovered by the international golf tournament circuit. Green-fees and other costs are surprisingly low, given that course maintenance and services are superb. The Royal Hua Hin course is one of many, but considered to be the best.
Shop till you drop
Chatchai Market is colourful and inexpensive and is one of Hua Hin’s major attractions. Vendors gather nightly in the centre of town, where they cook fresh gulf seafood for hordes of hungry Thais and provide a spectacle for visitors. As well as plentiful food shops, it offers much that will appeal to souvenir hunters too.
Klai Kangwon (which means ‘Far From Worries’ ) is the Royal Palace built by King Rama VII in 1928. It was designed by Prince Iddhidehsarn Kridakara, an architect and the Director of the Fine Arts Department at the time, and officially opened in 1929. Further structures have been added over time, including a mansion ordered by King Bhumibol (Rama IX) for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and accommodation for the royal entourage, built in the style of the original buildings so as to preserve the harmony of the palace. Although Klai Kangwon is still in regular use by the Royal family, it is also open to the public.
Hop on a train
Or more importantly, visit the railway station. Built in the reign of Rama IV, the brightly painted wooden buildings somehow combine traditional Thai ideas with a Victorian feel, and in 2009 Hua Hin made it onto NewsWeek’s Best Stations list, in great company such as New York’s Grand Central, and London’s St Pancras.
Although one of the joys of Hua Hin is its serenity and calm, if you’re keen to take in more, its fairly easy to find trips which will take you to many of the other southern beach destinations such as Koh Nangyaun, Koh Toa, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Koa Sok. You may find however that some of these legendary destinations have suffered more at the hands of the global tourist industry than Hua Hin has.
Khao Takiab is referred as Monkey Mountain, but as well as the mischievous residents, it also boasts a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin, a pagoda-style shrine and a giant golden Buddha which faces the sunrise.
Walk in the Park
The region boasts several parks, and natural attractions, such as the Kangajan National Park, and the Koa Sam Roi Yod Marine Park. You’ll find miles of good walking, amongst lakes, caves and waterfalls, and you’ll be in the company of as elephants, tigers, wild dogs and leopards.
Eat, drink and sleep in Hua Hin
As more affluent ex-pats from all over the world gather to weather the winter, or snap up beachfront properties in Hua Hin, the restaurant scene becomes more cosmopolitan. French, Italian, German and Scandinavian restaurants are all here, in case anyone feels homesick. However, there are also rustic seafood restaurants, especially on the pier, and at several of these you can choose your own fish from the fish market right outside and waiters will bring you the finished result.
There are plenty of simpler local restaurants both inside and out on the streets where you can sample authentic Thai food too.
If you want to try to cook your own Thai food in Hua Hin, the very best place to buy your ingredients, not because it’s the cheapest, but because it is a fabulous experience, is the night market. Right in the centre of town, it opens at 18:00. It’s also a terrific place to buy handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing.
The Chatchai market is a great day market and the place to go for the best street food, as vendors grill, fry, boil and dress the fabulous local fish and shellfish, but don’t forget to leave room for a real local speciality. Roti Hua Hin is a delicious dough-based snack filled with strawberries, custard or raisins.
In a side street just off the market is the Hua Hin Thai Show, a pagoda-style restaurant which combines great food with a nightly musical performance, where you can sample folk with your fish or classical over your clams.
Unlike many Thai resorts, here you will also find more elegant dining, including Thai and Vietnamese food with a more upmarket touch for a real treat. Monsoon is the most romantic and expensive, but it’s worth it for the wine list and the elegant atmosphere. If your budget doesn’t run to dinner, you can enjoy afternoon tea on its teak-decked terrace.
Hua Hin isn’t as lively as many of its neighbours, but that doesn’t mean it’s no go for night life. There are quite a few live music venues, including El Murphy’s the Irish bar, which has its own local band rocking the town with rock and blues classics. There are a couple of country music pubs, and several nightclubs, but for a really classy experience, head to Satchmo’s where a vibrant Filipino band will serenade you as you drink the best Mojito outside Mexico.
Hua Hin has more than its share of upmarket and luxury accommodation. All the main hotel chains are here, and most have lovely grounds, top facilities and restaurants. There are elegant luxury boutique-style hotels too, many with villas and private pools. Sadly, there aren’t as many budget options as there used to be, but if you’re prepared to do some research you can find clean an friendly guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts at reasonable rates. If you’re planning to stay a while, a rental apartment can be a good option; many of the holiday homes owned by people who live abroad can be rented for at least part of the year. Wherever you stay, Hua Hin is an oasis of calm in a country of exciting contrasts.
Hotels/Resorts in Hua Hin
Hotels Hua Hin: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa||★★★★★|
|G Hua Hin Resort & Mall||★★★★|
|Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa - SHA Certified||★★★★★|
|Hop Inn Hua Hin||★★|
|Anantara Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★|
|Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin||★★★★★|
|Blu Marine Hua Hin Resort and Villas||★★★|
|Amari Hua Hin - SHA Certified||★★★★★|
|Asira Boutique HuaHin||★★★★|
|Bann Lom Le Guest House||★★|
|The Herbs Hotel Hua Hin||★★★★|
|Corner Cafe Bed & Breakfast||★★|
|Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★|
|Whale Hua Hin||★★★★|
|Dadddy's home Huahin||★★|
|Ruenkanok Thaihouse Resort||★★★|
|InterContinental Hua Hin Resort, an IHG Hotel||★★★★★|
|Hyatt Regency Hua Hin||★★★★★|
|Prinz Garden Villa||★★★|
Lopburi | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Lopburi (ลพบุรี), also Lop Buri or Lob Buri is a historic city 3 hours north of Bangkok in the Chao Phraya Basin region of Thailand. Lopburi has a mountain called Khao Chan Daeng. Understand Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good […]
Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good place to escape the stress and pollution of the capital.
History of Lopburi
Lopburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, a former capital and the second capital after Ayutthaya was established in 1350. It was abandoned after King Narai passed away in 1688, but parts were restored in 1856 by King Mongkut (King Rama IV) and in 1864 it was made the summer capital.
Lopburi had been an important part of the Khmer Empire and later a part of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It was Ayutthaya’s second capital under the reign of King Narai the Great, who used to spend eight months a year in Lopburi. Later on King Mongkut of the Bangkok Chakri Dynasty used to reside here. Thus the remains of almost all periods of Thai history can be found.
There are two central areas in Lopburi: New Town and Old Town. Most of the important sites, plus the train station, are in the Old Town; buses arrive and depart from the New Town.
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Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine, and there’s even a monkey temple/amusement park where you can buy snacks to feed to them.
Keep an eye out for monkeys hanging from trees and wires and sitting on roofs and ledges, and be aware that they have some unpleasant bad habits including defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, jumping on people to snatch food and stealing bags that they suspect may contain something edible.
At night nothing much is going on in the Old Town, thus the street dogs consider everybody running around after midnight very suspicious. While most of them will just look at you, some might bark, run behind you and jump at you. While common at night, it is very rare during the day.
From Ayutthaya, local buses run every 20 minutes, take around 2 hours and cost 35 Thai Baht.
There is a minibus service from Mo Chit to Lopburi.
Travel by minivan in Lopburi
From Bangkok, air-con vans leave from Victory Monument, take about 2 hours and cost 110 Thai Baht. There are multiple van services in the area, so if the timing for one service does not work try another.
Air-con vans also leave from the main Mo Chit (northern) bus station for the same price. The last minibus normally departs around 18:00.
Trains from/to Bangkok main Hualamphong station take about 3 hours. Take the Northern Line from Hua Lamphong Railway Station everyday, many rounds per day.
Trains from/to Ayutthaya take about one hour and cost 13 Thai Baht for third class.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin Road) passing Phra Phutthabat District, Saraburi, onto Lopburi. The total distance is 153 km.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 32 which separates from Hwy 1, passing Ayutthaya. There are three routes as follows:
- Enter Bang Pahan District, passing Nakhon Luang District into Rte 3196. Then, pass Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Enter at the Ang Thong Interchange to Tha Ruea District and turn left onto Rte 3196, passing Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Pass Ang Thong, Singburi, and take Rte 311 (Singburi–Lopburi), passing Tha Wung District onto Lopburi.
The blue local bus (8 Thai Baht) circles constantly between the bus station about 2 km from the town centre, passing Phra Kahn Shrine, going south on Sorasak Road, and ending up in front of the TAT office on Phraya Kamuad Road.
- Ban Vichayen (Narai Maharat Road). Daily, 08:30-16:00. The remains of Constantine Phaulkon’s residence, built in the reign of King Narai the Great. Only the outer walls of the three main buildings remain, in a small grassy area. 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Kahn Shrine (Narai Maharat Road). The site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked. 50 Thai Baht.
- Phra Narai Ratchanivet (King Narai’s Palace) (Entrance on Sorasak Road on the east wall). W-Su, 8:30-16:00, closed M-Tu and holidays. Built in 1677 by French, Italian, and Portuguese engineers, the palace was used by King Narai to host receptions for foreign envoys. Restored in 1856 by King Mongkut, it was converted into a museum in 1924. The palace grounds consists of the remains of various buildings in an enclosed park, with the central palace serving as the Somdet Phra Narai Museum, which houses prehistoric exhibits, along with Buddha images of Dvaravati, Lopburi and Khmer styles; and King Mongkut’s bedroom. Foreigners 150 Thai Baht, Thais 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Prang Sam Yot. A Khmer-style temple known for its three linked towers. Entrance fee, foreigners 50 Thai Baht and Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Phutthabat (17 km southeast of Lopburi. Take any Saraburi bus (Bus 104) which leaves the main bus station every 20 min and takes 30 min to get to the side road 1 km from the wat). 21 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Sri Rattanamahathat. Built in the 13th Century, this is one of the town’s most important monasteries; visitors can view a bas relief illustrating the Buddha’s life on the central prang. No monkeys. Admission, foreigners 50 Thai Baht, Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Sao Thong Thong (On Rue De France). A viharn in the compound of a working wat, also has a small amulet market in the grounds. Previously used as a Christian chapel and a mosque, it has now been restored and features a large Buddha figure, with several smaller Lopburi-era Buddhas in wall niches. Free.
- Rock Climbing (จีนแล) (Near Suwannahong Temple (Jiin Lay 2), Baan Nong Kham). At Jiin Lay Mountain.
If you are going to be in Lopburi long-term, you will need the services of the two department stores. There is a Big C mall in town, with a KFC, along with a Tesco Lotus in the Monkey Mall further down. The latter has a very large outdoor market in the evenings.
The street vendors in the Old Town are very nice and have all kinds of tasty things. In the evenings, a lot of street food stalls are set up on a road in front of railway station.
- Bualuang, 46/1 Moo 3, Tasala (In the New Town, about 6 km from old city). Cash only.
- Louis Steakhouse (On Phahon Yothin east of the large roundabout around 1/2 km from Big C under the pedestrian overpass). A great restaurant owned by a Belgian. A great change if you are looking for something a little different from Thai food.
- New World Steak House (Just west of Sakal, the large town centre with the fountains, just to your left before you cross a bridge, at the lights (look for a rather large hotel next to it)). Good English cuisine. Run by Barry and Noi, an Englishman and his Thai wife. The prices are higher than typical Thai food, but the steaks are huge, the Shepherd’s pie is excellent, and sometimes has tacos.
- White House (Just behind (north of) the Tourism office (TAT)). Romantic Western architecture with a beautiful yard and second floor, offers good food. Crab meat fried rice and red curry is very good. The owner, Mr Piak, speaks English and will tell you everything you need to know, even if you don’t dine there.
You might find the nightlife in Lopburi fairly quiet for a town of its size but there are a selection of places to catch a drink in the evening. Old Town has a few curbside bars, which are excellent for those who are still new to Thailand, as there are usually some foreigners about. There is also a small club (look for the large “Ben More” sign) next to a local park near the train station in the Old Town, but it is a little pricier than average.
The centre of town has a variety of places, from hole in the wall local dives, to “The Bank”, a disco that is frequented by Lopburi’s young crowd, but is not recommended for foreigners unless you know your way around well. Uptown has few drinking establishments on the main road, but there are a variety of karaoke bars and such down the back roads. Some of these out-of-the-way places are OK for a drink and some offer short-term female company but this not recommended for the newcomers.
- Butterfly Bar, Phayakamjad Road (Across street from Narai Palace). 12:00-. Nice little street side bar with beer, whisky and food. Gung and Steve are great hosts and the bar stays open until there is no one remaining. There are usually a few Westerners hanging around. 50 Thai Baht.
Where to stay in Lopburi
Hotels in the Old Town offer generally similar medium scale standards for 140-500 Thai Baht. The monkeys run around freely, but usually stay in just one small area. Depending on your preference you can choose a place with lots of monkeys running (and hanging) around, or opt for somewhere with low or no monkey presence.
Places with lots of monkeys
- Lopburi City Hotel. Probably the best of the hotels within the monkey area, and enclosed in a big “cage” that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. All rooms are air-con. 300+ Thai Baht.
- Muang Tong Hotel. The least likable hotel in the monkey area. It’s not enclosed in a “cage”, so opening the windows isn’t a good idea. However, it does have the best view of the monkey area and the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple. Rooms have Thai-style bathrooms with squat toilets.
- Sri Indra Hotel. Enclosed in a big “cage” that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. The rooms are neat and clean, but don’t expect more. 200+ Thai Baht.
Places with few monkeys
- Lopburi Asia Hotel (Close to King Narai Palace.). Rooms are low to medium standard. 200+ Thai Baht.
- Nett Hotel. Good location, with a small food market in front, and no monkeys running around. Rooms range from medium standard to a decent standard. 180+ Thai Baht.
- Noom Guesthouse, 15-17 Phayakamjad Road, ✉ email@example.com. Has fan rooms, also offers motorcycle rentals and rock climbing, and is close to an Internet café. Serves English breakfast, 08:00-11:30.
- Suphon Phong Hotel (Very close to the train station and to Wat Phra Sri Ratanamahatat). Has only two good points: location and price. 140 Thai Baht.
- Lopburi Inn, 28/9 Narai Maharat Road. Holds a dinner party each November for the monkeys. The hotel has a shuttle and may be willing to pick you up from the train station.
- Lopburi Inn Resort. The only hotel in town with a swimming pool.
Pattaya | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
The City of Pattaya on the East coast of the Gulf of Thailand is a self-governing region about 165km Southeast of Bangkok. For centuries, it was a small fishing village, but when American servicemen ventured down the coast from their base in Nakhon Ratchasima in 1959, in search of rest and relaxation during the Vietnam War, the package holiday industry took off with a bang, and Pattaya began to develop into the popular beach resort of today.
Now, the fishermens’ huts have long gone, as the region lures sun-worshippers and hedonists in their millions every year. A seemingly unlimited flow of dollars fuelled the local economy which for decades wasn’t as careful as it might have been about the rapid development and free-for-all glitz and glamour which drove the city’s progress, but more recently, it is striving to position itself as a more family-friendly destination.
Nowadays, the nearby temples of the Pratamnak Hill look down on a bustling metropolis, packed with hotels, stores, high-rise apartment blocks, bars and restaurants. Pleasure-seekers revel in the nightlife, with its pulsing beat, and head for the beaches of Naklua, Pattaya and Jomtien by day.
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Broadly speaking, the city is divided into several regions. Central Pattaya offers countless shops and restaurants, and plentiful nightlife, but is definitely not for those in search of a quiet night’s sleep. Likewise, South Pattaya, which encompasses the word-famous Walking Street, a tourist attraction in itself, which draws foreigners and Thai nationals alike, primarily for the after-dark entertainment. This is also the City’s red-light district, and go-go bars and brothels line the street which runs from the south end of Beach Road to the Bali Hai Pier. However, Walking Street also includes seafood restaurants, live music venues, beer bars, discos and sports bars and has an impressive collection of neon signs for those who want to be where the action is.
There’s no escaping the hurly burly in Pattaya, but if you’re looking for a slightly more peaceful experience, you’ll head to one of the beaches. Pattaya’s beaches are everything expected of Thailand’s famed beaches. Gorgeous, clean and well facilitated. Jomtien is popular with package tour operators and families, whilst if you head up to Naklua and North Pattaya you’ll find that although there are still plenty of bars and restaurants, the entertainment isn’t quite as relentless. If you seek out the more remote corners of Naklua you may even get a hint of the region’s traditional history as a fishing town. Few tourists bother, but for traditionalists, it’s worth a visit.
The tropical climate divides the year into three, from November to February the air is warm and dry, getting hotter and more humid through to May, and the rainy season runs from June to October.
Overall, Pattaya is not for the faint-hearted, or those in search of solitude or a cultural experience, but it will reward the laid-back traveller with just a hint of a spirit of adventure.
Things to see and do
Shop till you drop
Over the fifty or so years since the first GIs showed up in search of the sun, Pattaya has developed into a hive of activity, not least for those in search of retail therapy. The city is full of shops, including Asia’s largest beachfront shopping mall, the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall, attached to the Hilton Hotel.
Take to the water
If you’ve any energy left after the thrills of the night, all the beaches offer a wide range of watersports, which attract as many Thai visitors, heading to Pattaya for the weekend from Bankok. Jet-ski-ing and parasailing are the norm, and small boats are available for hire, or skippered trips.
One of the joys of a Thai beach holiday is the wealth of offshore islands, many of which can be reached by small boat or ferry in a matter of minutes. From Pattaya, head off to Ko Larn, Ko Sak or Ko Krok, known as the ‘near islands’ about 7k from Pattaya, or journey further towards the ‘far islands’ Ko Phai, Ko Man Wichai, Ko Hu Chang or Ko Klung Badan. Many of the islands have public beaches, less crowded than those on the mainland, and lots offer scuba diving and other water-based fun.
See the sights
If you’re in search of something a little more cultural, look out for the Wat Khao Phra Bat Temple, which overlooks Pattaya Bay and features a 18metre-high Buddha.
The Sanctuary of Truth is set on a rocky point of the coast just north of Pattaya, in the small town of Naklua. It’s a work in progress, started by an eccentric billionaire who began the ambitious construction 20 years ago. The Sanctuary is rather more adventure park than spiritual haven, but you can still take in this fascinating construction project, made entirely from wood, by a team of 250 woodcarvers.
Billed as a world-leading adventure park, the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden features impressive elephant and Thai cultural shows, in one of the biggest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia. Despite the cultural differences between east and west, it is still possible to appreciate the conservation projects at work here, while palms and orchids, education facilities and plenty of food and drink choices contribute to a rewarding family day out.
Back to the hustle and bustle of an activity-fuelled holiday and you might want to check out the private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Mini Siam model village, the Pattaya Crocodile Farm, the Silverlake Winery, Aquarium, or any of the many amusement and waterparks dotted around the region.
Time your trip carefully, and you may find yourself caught up in one of the many festivals which take place throughout the year. Bikers will enjoy Burapa Pattaya Bike Week in February which brings together motorcyles and international music, whiles those who prefer their entertainment without engine noise will enjoy March’s Pattaya International Music festival, or the Songkran festival, which lasts for several days in April. Regattas, dance parties, beauty pageants, gay celebrations and traditional light festivals are here in abundance, there’s something going on here every day of the year, and if you hit Chinese New Year, there’ll be dragons, lion dances and fireworks too.
Eat, drink and sleep
The Thais are very casual when it comes to eating and drinking. This is a busy place with lots going on, nobody is going to notice if you eat with your hands, spit out your seeds, or put your elbows on the table. Eateries pop up in the most unlikely doorways so watch out for those special little places – particularly on Second Road and in Naklau. These are the most likely places for real Thai food and if you’re sensible you will follow the locals to the best places. Anywhere with a queue is bound to be good. Street food is one of the joys of South East Asian dining, don’t miss the opportunity to experiment.
However, as this is such a multinational tourist destination, you may find it difficult to find a truly authentic Thai culinary experience along the main drags. You’re as likely to find an American diner, Italian spaghetti house or Greek emporium so it’s worth seeking out the quieter corners and watching to see where the locals eat.
Most formal meals consist of a meat or a fish dish, fried or steamed vegetables, a curry, stir-fried dishes of meat and vegetables and a soup. If you decide to enjoy a traditional meal, expect to take time over it. You’ll experience flavours including lemon grass and coriander, plenty of chilli, and flavourings such as fish sauce and Java Root. Most Thai meals are centred on rice or noodles.
Drink flows freely in Thailand, and the traditional accompaniment to a Thai meal is local beer or rice whisky. However, this is Pattaya, and you can’t travel more than a few metres without finding yourself in a bar. The designs, interior décor, themes and even the drinks may not be traditional, but you’ll find plenty of company as you pile into the drink. It’s unlikely you’ll be trying to stay sober, but if you do, ask for a melon ice drink, or a citrus banana punch, two of Thailand’s favourite non-alcoholic tipples.
As you’d expect in a city dedicated to tourists and good times, there are as many places to stay as there are fish in the sea. From the huge sky-scraper international hotel chains, to smaller, funkier one-off establishments, it’s easy to find a room which will suit your particular needs. Staff are helpful and friendly, although facilities vary greatly, so check out the things that matter to you.
However for a more authentic experience, go for a self-catering apartment, or a smaller Bed and Breakfast, although it’s advisable to check out feedback from previous guests. For those on a budget or a gap year, there are plenty of hostels and backpacker hangouts too, and these can be had for a song as long as you don’t mind the person in the bed next to you singing all night. Basically, it depends on how much of your time in this vibrant colourful mecca of pleasure you’re planning to spend in your hotel room.
Hotels Pattaya: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya||★★★★★||-47%||246 132|
|Siam@Siam Design Hotel Pattaya||★★★★★||-40%||119 72|
|Holiday Inn Pattaya, an IHG Hotel||★★★★||-21%||108 86|
|Hilton Pattaya||★★★★★||-32%||204 140|
|Dusit Thani Pattaya||★★★★★||-42%||134 77|
|Avani Pattaya Resort||★★★★★||-54%||175 80|
|Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya||★★★★||-26%||529 392|
|Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort||★★★★||-7%||289 268|
|Grande Centre Point Pattaya||★★★★★||-47%||196 102|
|The Bayview Hotel Pattaya||★★★★||-22%||442 347|
|Adelphi Pattaya||★★★★||-18%||210 173|
|Swiss Paradise Boutique Villa||★★★|
|Cape Dara Resort||★★★★★||-36%||182 116|
|Hotel Vista||★★★★||-16%||44 37|
|Arden Hotel and Residence by At Mind||★★★★||-30%||139 97|
|Royal Cliff Beach Hotel||★★★★★||-49%||161 83|
|Grand Scenaria Hotel|
|Pullman Pattaya Hotel G||★★★★★||-43%||137 79|
|Pattaya Discovery Beach Hotel||★★★★||-15%||325 277|
|Amari Pattaya||★★★★★||-24%||168 129|
|Centara Pattaya Hotel||★★★★|
|D Varee Jomtien Beach Pattaya Hotel|
|A-One Star Hotel||★★★||-13%||172 150|
|Centra by Centara Maris Resort Jomtien||★★★★||-24%||318 243|
|Ibis Pattaya||★★★||-17%||156 130|
|Butterfly Garden Boutique Residence by Frasier||★★★★||-13%||31 27|
|A101 The Ocean Pearl|
|Rita Resort & Residence||★★★|
|Red Planet Pattaya||★★★||-27%||97 71|
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